REVIEW DATE: 18 Jun 2010
Renault's hot hatch empire continues to expand with the Renaultsport Gordini version of the Clio supermini. Steve Walker reports.
Is it possible to have too much of a good thing? Renault apparently thinks not and having cemented its reputation as a modern day master of the hot hatch game, the French brand is intent on flaunting its prowess to the maximum. Alongside the Renaultsport Megane and Twingo models, Renaultsport versions of the Clio have won rave reviews and buyers wanting something extra from their fast Renault supermini can opt for a Gordini. It's basically the Clio Renaultsport with added opulence.
Amedee Gordini was born in 1899 and very quickly became fascinated by automobiles and motorsport. He would go on to develop his own Grand Prix cars before joining Renault in the 1950's and developing competition vehicles for them. Adorned with distinctive bright blue paintwork and double white roof stripes, the Gordini Renault 8 took four of the top five places in the 1964 Corsica rally including the top spot on the podium. In 1966, the Gordini Cup one-make race series was created for the 1,300cc version of the Gordini Renault 8 and would go on to establish the blueprint for all one-make race series. With its distinctive livery and exhilarating performance, the Clio Renaultsport Gordini is a car that the great man might just have recognised.
Mechanically, the Gordini is identical to the Clio Renaultsport 200. The 2.0-litre 16-valve petrol engine does without the assistance of a turbocharger, which is becoming more unusual amongst this fast Clio's rivals. It means that the car produces its best higher in the rev range and the driver is rewarded for persevering with each gear as the revs rise. Maximum torque of 215Nm is available at 5,400rpm and peak power is generated at a heady 7,100rpm. The 0-60mph sprint is covered in 6.9s and the top speed is 141mph. Yes, the Gordini is fast.
"You can't blame Renault for making the most of its impressive Renaultsport range"
Just as in the Clio Renaultsport 200, customers have a choice of chassis options at their disposal. The standard set-up features wider tracks than a conventional Clio, up by 48mm at the front and 50mm at the rear. It also has a 10mm longer wheelbase and Renault's ingenious front suspension with its independent steering axis designed to reduce torque steer, the bane of powerful front wheel-drive cars. Thicker anti-roll bars and stiffer suspension are the other key modifications but those wishing to go further can choose the Cup chassis option. Here the Clio gets hardcore with a lower ride height, even stiffer suspension and faster steering. Cup models are also 36kg lighter, enhancing the car's power to weight ratio. In Cup form, the Clio feels noticeably more purposeful out on the road.
A lot of what makes the Gordini version of the Clio special is visual. The car, of course, gets the famous blue paintwork and double white roof stripes, there are a number of exterior features that separate this car for a standard Renaultsport Clio. Inside, the difference is even more pronounced. The Gordini continues the blue and white colour scheme adding seats and a steering wheel in blue and black leather plus a series of other trim upgrades.
Renault claims to have brought its experience in Formula 1 to bear on the aerodynamic side of the Clio Renaultsport and the curves of the front wing are vaguely reminiscent of something you might see in the paddock on Grand Prix day. The car's CdA drag coefficient is a slippery 0.75 which helps with both performance and efficiency.
Being effectively the range-topping Renault Clio, the Renaultsport Gordini isn't cheap. Keen drivers should also seriously consider specifying the optional Cup chassis which transforms the car's handling but makes things a little jittery in everyday conditions. At least the standard equipment list is long with Bluetooth connectivity, keyless entry, cruise control and numerous other items included. This is not your stripped out hot hatchback and really does add some extra luxury to proceedings.
The Clio Renaultsport's market positioning has been somewhat unusual because its hefty power output means it out-performs most of the supermini-derived models and is more closely aligned to the larger rivals like the Honda Civic Type-R and Volkswagen's Golf GTI. In Gordini guise, it's closer still to such models thanks to the higher price. While it might lack the space and sophistication of the larger alternatives, the Clio is a viable everyday car and the beautifully judged handling makes it a very attractive option for the keen driver.
Don't expect anything too spectacular at the pumps, especially if you're regularly revving the engine hard to access the best of its performance. In this day and age, emissions of 198g/km and fuel economy of 34.5mpg aren't great in a fast supermini, no matter how quick it is. The far larger and heavier Golf GTI manages 170g/km and over 38mpg but even it won't match the Clio for pure exhilaration on the road.
You can't blame Renault for making the most of its impressive Renaultsport range and the introduction of Gordini variants gave buyers the option of having all the pace with a little extra sophistication. The Clio Renaultsport Gordini is far from cheap for a supermini-based hot hatchback but it's crammed with equipment and has a unique visual signature that will help owners stand out.
The results below show the top CLIO deals on buyacar
|Renault Clio 0.9 TCE 90 Dynamique S MediaNav 5dr hatchback|
|Price £13,211||Save £1,784|
|Renault Clio 1.2 16V Expression 5dr hatchback|
|Price £9,682||Save £913|
|Renault Clio 1.5 dCi 90 Dynamique S MediaNav 5dr diesel hatchback|
|Price £14,188||Save £1,907|
|Renault Clio 0.9 TCE 90 Dynamique MediaNav 5dr hatchback|
|Price £12,322||Save £1,673|
|Renault Clio 1.5 dCi 90 ECO Dynamique MediaNav 5dr diesel hatchback|
|Price £13,522||Save £1,823|
|VIEW MORE DISCOUNT CLIO DEALS|
|For CLIO RENAULTSPORT GORDINI|
|OVERALL||7.5 OUT OF 10|
|Space / Versatility||7|
Let our car quote assistant help you configure your ideal new Clio - it's 100% free and easy to use...
Click below for more information: